8 Islands. Aloha works on all of them. So does Mahalo.
Mahalo, a life credo, a thank you and a farewell. A vibe and wonderful blend of life in the midst of the Pacific. HAWAII: Ha-wa-i-i..! The Big Island has been my destination for the final excursion of 2023, concluding one of or THE very finest travel year of my life. So hello big island, Aloha for sure.
Hawaii main island is the biggest of the Hawaiian islands and is actually bigger than all of the other seven islands combined. Side note: one island remains uninhabited and about 130 more small islands are part of Hawaii from a geo perspective. At least in land mass big island is bigger, not in population density which I found vitalizing. This has been a main reason why we chose to visit the big one as it offers all that you crave, from sometimes snowy volcano tops in the center to an active volcano. To jungle forests and breathtaking waterfalls to prestige beaches and decent surf. All topped by great cuisine and so much to explore and experience along the beautiful paths.
Sure thing everyone’s has heard of Hawaii and likes it or dreams about it. And is absolutely right with that for many reasons. Surely, my pics will tell; so stop dreaming, make it real.
As the population density is by far not as high as like e.g. Honolulu on island Oahu, in fact less than a fourth of that of Honolulu, you can do both: escape the civilization on lonesome trails or dive into the local and bit touristy culture of the island. Which you can do on either the sunny Kailua-KONA coast in the West or the mystic HILO coast in the East. All around the island, it is very pricey, though, which I state as someone making good bucks yet working a job and having travelled globally, and been through the mess of Sydney, San Francisco, LA or NYC.
To get around the island in style, especially around Kona, please feel free to reach out to Chris. He picks you up in a stylish SUV by Alfa Romeo and has all the local knowledge and can even introduce you to the right people thanks to his knowledge and connections. Contact him here: Chris.
As Chris as well pointed out to check-out the best fish on the west of the island, we were headed to Umekes Fresh Fish Market and Grill. It is one of the locations to go to around Kona. For freshest and I mean freshest fish as well as live music at night time it is so worth the visit. Also, the neighborhood comes with another great bar to go to right next to it. Interestingly, nightlife around Kona seems to be limited to like 11pm as the freaks come out at night then. But island life is get-up-early-life anyway. The main working hours are from like 7.30am to 3.30pm, usually. That explains why streets are busy in the morning and the second part of the afternoon. People then often flock the beaches and coastal areas.
A delicious desert or snack are Lilikoi Bagels or Scones. There are some really nice bakeries to be found on the island that offer them alongside tasty other treats. Try them out yourself.
The very best beach club and surf-style restaurant and hang-out place seems to be Lava Lava Beach Club. The food, the view, turtles by the beach and super-friendly service make up for a marvelous food and drink stop here.
History has it that Captain Cook had been the very first European to set foot on Hawaii big island. So Sirk is just a follower then? Well, I certainly followed some of the first and fundamental trails on the island and also chose some newer ones to intake a lot. Having travelled numerous times and destinations I can say I felt different on Hawaii than in other US states. More Polynesian as you can greatly feel the different island culture Hawaii comes with. Yet, it felt American with the usual brands and main culture. A combination that I enjoyed as Hawaiian language and local vibes are preserved in the state of Hawaii in many places. It is worth soaking in the various influences of Hawaiian, Polynesian, old Christian and of course American culture that portrays in small churches here and there or the many friendly ways of locals. Ohana (family) and mahalo for real. Speaking of the local language or pronunciation: Ha-wa-ii is kind of right from what I understood. Most often two letters combined are to be pronounced to try to sound familiar with the language. And yes, you can try Hula dancing lessons here or try to play that Ukulele.
Around the island there are beautiful beaches to be discovered that all allow for specific highlights. Like Manini’owali Beach at Kua Bay which had been my absolute favorite. It offers strong waves and nice sand and I enjoyed the clear water. As we stayed in Kona it was half an hour drive north. And just 15 minutes south of Kona, the so called Magic Sands Beach can be found which might be different every single day. Why? Cause the current is so strong that the sand can disappear overnight or washed ashore again in more or less mass. So it is kind of worth being checked out almost every day😉 More south of that one you will find a wonderful snorkel spot where Turtles can be seen and swan with right by the beach. It is called Kahalu’u Beach Park and is actually barely beachy at all, but once you crossed the rocks and find yourself swimming in the sea with snorkel gear, it is wonderful. Almost as wonderful as the Maldives. Rent snorkel gear nearby at Kahalu’u Bay Surf and Sea.
When it comes to Waterfalls, the Akaka Falls State Park is a true must. That prestige and massive waterfall is just impressive with a height of almost 140 meters / 450 feet. They are found in the north-east of the island just like half an hour away from the also famous Rainbow Falls. Those feature a rainbow on a daily basis and thus the name. Shortly before arriving at Rainbow Falls, you can spot the old abandoned Hawaii Hospital that could easily be the scenery for a horror movie.
But it is the Akaka Falls that provide that first bit of Jurassic Park experience. That overall vibe with super-green forests, deep waters, mystical magic. Even though it is not where they actually shot the movie back then. Doesn’t matter, its nature at its best also here.
To take a break, hold on and soak in the scenery while coming back to oneself, is key to a better life, I believe. And what I needed or less need. The lookout of Pololu Valley is magical and grounded me or connected me with the island. Or can connected anyone with the island of they allow for it to happen. Be it for sunset, during the day or for the early sunrise, actually. Sunrise can be surely spiritual..! I might label that as my insider tip – check the pics for yourself and it is the second more intense Jurassic Park feeling that you get when resting or hiking there. Having seen many places on this wonderful earth, I believe people from all cultural backgrounds and countries will enjoy the view around Pololu. You can stare at the beautiful Pacific, check the cliff or dark-grey beach, be amazed by the forest to jungle vibes or just breath the super-fresh air. Cause after all, you’re in the midst of the Pacific.
Gulches. Seven major gulches on the North-East of the island can be found. These were formed by massive tsunamis that occurred over the past some hundred thousand years. Hawaii gets beaten up by a Tsunami like every then years. The massive gulches shape the coast here impressively.
Volcanos add up and complete the experience and possibilities on Hawaii. As do many trails through legit rain forest. The rain forest and Pacific feelings allowed me to remember my time living in Australia. Speaking of rain, it will rain multiple times a week at least on parts of the island. They say Kona (west) is rather sunny whilst Hilo (east) catches more rain and collects more clouds in general. Big Island without a hike would never make sense. And towards the active volcano of Kilauea it is almost breathtaking for real thanks to the sulfide. But no need to worry. The volcano is always emitting fumes and sometimes glows red for a bit.
More importantly, every single hike on Hawaii (or maybe elsewhere 😊) is an escape to nature that offers a chance to spot wildlife like e.g. the Mongoose animal. I was super-surprised by how big those get. Sadly, I missed taking a clear pic of one, so maybe google for yourself or follow the link provided, please. They have big cute eyes with a massive body and are rather quick guys that usually shy away from humans.
Worth to mention is the trolley: every hour you should see a trolley bus, an open one with no window glass crossing the main island road. It is a free shuttle that can take you many places, yep, for free. A cool open bus with friendly drivers that can make for a pleasant alternative to UBER or that rental car. Even though, a rental car gives you way more options, of course. There is no real need for a 4×4 car, unless you wish to climb to the top of Mauna Kea (that big mountain in the center of the island, an extinct volcano) at a whopping 13,800 feet or 4,250 meters. It can be snowy up there and it is cold. And that allows for a contrast that only big island can do, snow and surf (and surf & turf) in just one day, easily. To board a Trolley, wait at a blue and white Hele-on bus stop, red and white bus stop or Kona Trolley sign. They will stop to pick you up, going north or south. As a mountain biker, I missed my full suspension bike to explore even more right and left, even though much land is privately owned, it would have been a good deal more of an adventure.
Overall and once again: the blend of beach, country, mountain with all to see right and left is dreamlike on Hawaii.
I am grateful for this one and all other trips and journeys. Looking forward to continued travel and reflecting on our globe called Earth.
Alright, mahalo: thank you. Have a great 2024, folks.